December’s Daring Bakers challenge hosted by Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux was Yule log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand. This was not the usual Christmas log that first comes to mind. This one was a frozen dessert (I’d say semifrozen, the mousse doesn’t freeze hard) composed of total of 6 elements put together in the certain order. We were free to chose our own flavor variations. Mine were as follows:

  • cranberry-kumquat-pear mousse,
  • kumquat-ginger crème brulee insert,
  • white chocolate-pistachio praline crisp,
  • bittersweet ganache insert,
  • pistachio dacquoise,
  • and chocolate gelée glaze.

For the mousse layer I cooked the cranberries, seeded kumquats, chopped pears in cranberry juice with fresh ginger and star anise, then pureed the fruits and used the puree as the mousse base. It turned out quite good. I would recommend a different assembly sequence though, since the hard layer of the crisp in the middle of the soft-textured mousse made it tricky to slice. Next time I would put the crisp at the bottom, right before the dacquoise layer.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Serves about 8-10

For the dacquoise biscuit:

  • 2 oz lightly toasted pistachio nuts
  • 2 oz toasted blanched almonds
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp fine granulated sugar, divided
  • Scant 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar

For the kumquat-ginger crème brulee insert:

  • peel of 10 kumquats, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 20 g peeled sliced ginger root
  • ½ cup heavy cream (35% fat content)
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 4 large (72g) egg yolks
  • 0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar

For the praline feuillete (crisp insert):

The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. They are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own (I made the gavottes using Sandra’s recipe and they turned out fabulous. The half of the recipe will give you enough gavottes for the crisp and a little extra to enjoy with a cup of coffee.) or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.

  • 3.5 oz (100g) white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
  • 2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) pistachio praline, crushed
  • 2.1oz (60g) lace crepes (gavottes) or 1 oz rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K, crushed

For the cranberry-kumquat-pear mousse:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp (17g) cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup (80g) whipping cream
  • 7 oz (200g) cranberry-kumquat-pear puree
for the puree:

  • 6 oz fresh or thawed and drained frozen cranberries
  • 5 oz ( about1 cup) chopped peeled Bartlet pears
  • 3 oz seeded, cut into quarters kumquats
  • ½ cup unsweetened cranberry juice
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp (12 g) grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Star anise
  • 1/8 tsp (pinch) salt
  • 3.5 oz (1/2 cup / 100g) granulated sugar
  • 1.3 oz (36g) water
  • 3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 large egg whites
  • 2.5 gelatin leaves

For the bittersweet ganache insert:

  • 1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content), heated until hot
  • 3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened
  • 5 oz (135g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the cocoa gelée icing:

  • 4 sheets gelatin
  • ½ cup heavy cream (35 % fat content)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2.1 (120g) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (60g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Make the dacquoise biscuit:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 325F. Line a 9 X 13 jelly-roll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a food processor, process the nuts, ¼ cup of sugar, and the flour until the nuts are finely chopped.

In a large grease free bowl, whip the egg whites on medium speed until foamy, then add the salt and cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. On high speed, gradually beat in the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar until the whites form stiff peaks. With a rubber spatula, fold in the ground nuts until just incorporated. Spread the batter evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack. Can be prepared 2 days in advance. Store carefully but tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

Make the kumquat-ginger crème brulee insert:

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 210F.

You can use a silicone loaf pan without any special preparation or, alternatively, wipe a metal loaf pan with a very wet cloth and then cover it with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream, milk, kumquat peel, and ginger root. Heat to the boiling point. Remove from the stove, cover and let steep for about 1 hour. Strain, return to the saucepan and heat again to the same boiling point.

Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks. Temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot cream/milk into the yolks. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture. Strain again into a bowl or large liquid measuring cup and then pour into the mold. Place the mold in a large roasting pan and pour hot water into the roasting pan so that it comes about halfway up the mold. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes or until firm around the edges and slightly wobbly in the center. Let cool and put in the freezer to firm up and facilitate the final assembly. Once frozen, you can trim it with a sharp knife to the desired size.

Can be made a day in advance.

Make the praline feuillete (crisp insert):

Melt the chocolate and butter in a microwave or double boiler. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard. Trim to the desired shape.

The crisp can be made several days in advance.

Make the cranberry-kumquat-pear mousse and start the assembly of the log:

First, make the cranberry-kumquat-pear puree (it makes a little bit more than you will need for the mousse recipe; but you can dilute the rest with some fresh orange juice and use as a sauce The puree can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator):

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst and the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes total. Cool, remove the star anise. Puree the mixture in the food processor. Put through a strainer to get rid of the seeds. Measure out 200 g of the puree for the mousse.

Prepare an ice-bath. Beat the egg yolks with the cornstarch until thick, white and fluffy.
Meanwhile, heat the cream in a medium saucepan up to the boiling point and temper the yolks by whisking a tiny amount of the hot cream into the yolks. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the cream into the tempered yolk mixture. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan, add the fruit puree and cook, whisking constantly, until it thickens and the cornstarch aftertaste is gone, at least 3-5 min. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Place the bowl into the ice bath to cool to lukewarm temperature, stirring often (it will take a few minutes only). Press plastic wrap directly over the surface.

Make an Italian Meringue: In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and heat on medium heat until 244°F (118°C) when measured with a candy thermometer. When the temperature of the sugar syrup reaches 220F, start whipping the egg whites using a whisk attachment of the stand mixer. Once the egg whites form firm peaks and the syrup reaches 244 F, pour the sugar syrup into the whites in a thin stream while continuing to whisk on high speed. Whip for 1 minute on high, then reduce the speed to medium and continue to whip until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The meringue should be thick and glossy.

Meanwhile, soften the gelatin in cold water and melt in a small bowl in a microwave or in a double boiler (do not boil). Whisk in a couple of tablespoons of the slightly warm fruit puree into the melted gelatin, then whisk this mixture back into the fruit puree, mix wel to thoroughly combine. Delicately fold the Italian meringue into the cranberry-kumquat-pear mixture in 2 additions. Immediately proceed with the assembly.

Immediately proceed with the assembly (as I mentioned earlier, the sequence should be altered to make the dessert easier to slice). If using a metal mold, line it with plastic wrap or acetate; skip this step if using a silicone mold.

Pipe one half of the mousse into the mold. Take the creme brulee insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on the top of the mousse. Pipe the rest of the mousse around and over the creme brulee insert. Freeze for a few hours to set.

When the mousse has frozen, proceed with the ganache element.

Make the bittersweet ganache and finish assembly:

Make a caramel: Stir together the sugar and water in a high-sided medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat to moderately high and boil without stirring, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until the syrup turns deep amber in color. Take the pan of the heat and very carefully, in a thin stream, pour in the hot cream. Whisk in the softened butter. If necessary, return the caramel back to the stove to dissolve any hardened caramel. Pour the hot caramel over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth. The chocolate should be smooth and shiny. Cool until slightly warm.

Take the mold with the frozen mousse from the freezer and pipe or spread the ganache over the frozen mousse. Take, the prepared earlier praline feuillete and place it over the ganache, slightly pressing onto the crisp to embed it into the ganache layer. Trim the dacquoise biscuit and place it on the top of the ganache/crisp pressing lightly to adhere. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer to firm up.

When ready to glaze the log, unmold it and place on a wire rack set over a shallow baking pan.

Make the cocoa gelée and glaze the log:

Soften the gelatin in cold water. Place the cream, water, and sugar into a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, whisking. Whisk in the cocoa, bring back to the boil and cook, whisking constantly, for 4 minutes. Take off the heat and add the gelatin to the chocolate mixture, stir to dissolve. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Cool the glaze to 120F, then pour the glaze over the Yule log. Return to the freezer until serving time. Transfer to the refrigerator for about half an hour before serving.